The DMS Podcast: Patient-centered Care with Romina Oliverio
In our latest episode of the DMS podcast recorded on May 21st, Mari Miranda and yours truly spoke to Romina Oliverio. A familiar face on specialized tweetchats (chats on twitter that commonly take place every week at a certain hour) of dementia and Alzheimer's, commenting and sharing her thoughts on all the prolific topics that come up each week. Romina is based in Toronto, Canada and is a trained dementia and caregiving consultant that works with people with dementia (also known as PWDs) as well as families and caregivers, advocating for a good quality of life in elder care. In our podcast we interviewed Romina on an area she is an expert at, which is “Patient-centered Care”.
Almost all caregivers agree (there’s always one or two who don’t), when caring for a person with dementia their individuality must be respected and enhanced. In fact this is something that applies for any person being attended by a caregiver. A big focus on this type of individuality is done through the “patient-centered care” approach many caregivers are now practicing.
Also called “Person Center”, this is a new philosophy that is shattering the “one size fits all” mentality on caregiving. It puts the individual at the center of the care plan, is a departure from the traditional medical care plans as Romina puts it, “from a holistic point of view”.
By using this caregiving view the caregiver must get to know the patient as much as possible. If the caregiver is new to the patient, he or she must ask the family, friends, previous caregivers and also the patient themselves about likes and dislikes, anything to get to a familiar position of trust from both sides. “This creates a whole picture that is a foundation for the relationship”, says Romina. Being flexible also helps in caring for a PWD and always have a backup plan if the PWD is having an off day before a certain activity.
When the caregiver personalizes the activities for the PWD, trust plays a big role. It is certainly relevant to understand they are still a person despite their condition. Martyn (@ZkidooKreativ) from the #AlzChat featuring “Dementia and Individuality" in which I participated while writing this article said, “PWD don't stop being individuals because of dementia, feelings and memories remain”. Something that Romina also talked about in our conversation as to the PWD still having many abilities still left in him or her and how centered care focuses on encouraging those abilities to make the person feel empowered and engaged. “In my view, empowerment comes as a result of feeling engaged. So whenever possible the caregiver can engage the PWD to help in daily tasks”, pointed out Romina. This approach help both caregiver and patient to agree on the caregiving plan and therefore gives power to the patient and work alongside the caregiver or family member for as long as possible.
In the end it is all about thinking of that individual needing care, to tailor a positive experience by looking at the person’s interests, habits, experiences and put them towards the activity plan. Any small thing for any caregiver could be a great deal for the person living with dementia, depending on their stage an approach like patient-centered care can focus on those small things no matter the stage of the patient.
On this podcast Romina also spoke about an online community platform that she collaborates with, called AlzTunes.org and that was created in association with the Alzheimer’s society in Toronto for caregivers, professionals, people with dementia and all interested in using music to improve the quality of life in PWDs.
About her tweetchats experience, which by the way is how we found her, Romina says that she was surprised on the great opportunity for caregivers and people living with dementia to not feel alone and share their experiences. Dementia can be isolating and these social media channels bring everyone together.
For more on our conversation with Romina please visit our iTunes podcast which is also available for downloads and subscriptions.
Follow Romina on Twitter (@RominaOliverio)
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